December 9, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. | As certain elective procedures were officially paused across the state Dec. 9, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik condemned the New York executive order that led 32 hospitals to pause certain medical procedures under the guidelines of the state’s recent emergency disaster order.

“Our rural hospitals have suffered enough from this pandemic, and it is senseless to punish them more at this critical time of need,” Stefanik said as she led the New York Republican delegation in expressing concern of the recent measure aimed at reportedly preserving beds and staffing in certain capacity facilities.

Among the 32 hospitals immediately impacted, eight are in New York’s 21st District, including Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, Elizabethtown Community Hospital, Alice Hyde Medical Center, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Glens Falls Hospital, Saratoga Hospital and Albany Medical Center Hospital, Stefanik said.

Through the order signed by Gov. Hochul Nov. 26, the Department of Health can limit non-essential, non-urgent procedures for in-hospitals or systems with limited capacity to protect access to critical health care services, state officials said at the time.

Limited capacity is defined as below 10-percent staffed bed capacity, or as determined by the Department of Health based on regional and health care utilization factors.

In a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, lawmakers wrote “Your order claims to boost hospital capacity by limiting these procedures but fails to address a main driver of this issue, the healthcare workforce shortage that your illegal vaccine mandate has exacerbated. We urge you to immediately cease both your order to halt elective procedures for certain hospitals and implementation of your vaccine mandate on our healthcare workers to truly boost hospital capacity and safeguard access to care for all New Yorkers.”

The letter read in full as follows:

“On Nov. 26, you signed Executive Order No. 11, Declaring a Disaster Emergency in the State of New York, which allows the state to halt elective procedures in hospitals and will lead to significantly decreased access to lifesaving specialties and preventative care at numerous hospitals across the state. Throughout the pandemic, New Yorkers have been asked to delay preventative procedures that are critical to their long-term health. Instead of imposing additional mandates on our hospitals and forcing patients to postpone important procedures, you should be working with them and allowing hospitals to determine for themselves how to best balance their caseload, a problem they face in part because your vaccine mandate has caused a staffing crisis of nearly 34,000 healthcare workers across the state. Halting elective procedures will again have a devastating financial impact on these hospitals, which have already gone through once-in-a-generation fiscal hardship these past two years.

While you push this misguided Executive Order, your vaccine mandate on our healthcare workers continues to intensify workforce shortages and hospital capacity issues by forcing physicians, nurses, and medical workers out of the facilities they have worked so hard to support during the pandemic. Medical facilities across the state continue to shutter services, further reducing New Yorkers’ access to quality care. Your overreaching mandate fails to protect sincerely held religious beliefs of our medical professionals that are federally protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and puts New York’s healthcare workers in the impossible position of choosing between their careers and what they feel is the best choice for themselves and their families.

Our hospitals and healthcare facilities continue to struggle with staffing issues and will suffer devastating financial impact from your order halting elective procedures. Instead of continuing to impose mandates, you should strive to strengthen the healthcare workforce in New York State and allow hospitals the flexibility they need to continue to provide for our communities and remain financially viable.

We urge you to put our hospitals and healthcare workers first by immediately revoking your Executive Order and ceasing your efforts to implement your illegal vaccine mandate. New York medical facilities need your support, not your mandates, as they continue to operate under historic staffing shortages.”

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